WarnerMedia Launches Company-Wide Inclusion Initiative With Michael B. Jordan's 'Just Mercy'

Paul Archuleta/Getty; David Livingston/Getty
Michael B. Jordan (left), Kevin Tsujihara

"It is essential that our content and creative partners reflect the diversity of our society and the world around us," states the new policy that will launch with Jordan's latest project.

At the Academy Awards in March, Frances McDormand introduced to many the concept of an inclusion rider, a contract addendum that commits a studio or producer to recruit and hire diverse actors and crew on a project.

Since then, some production companies have announced that they would pursue making this concept a reality, including Michael B. Jordan's banner Outlier Society and Paul Feig's Feigco Entertainment.

Now, WarnerMedia has unveiled a company-wide policy outlining its commitment to diversity and inclusion in front of and behind the camera. The statement policy announced plans to "use our best efforts to ensure that diverse actors and crew members are considered for film, television and other projects, and to work with directors and producers who also seek to promote greater diversity and inclusion in our industry." This includes taking steps throughout production, especially in the development phase, along with issuing an annual report on the company's progress.

The first project to fall under the new policy will be Just Mercy, which stars Jordan and is being produced by his Outlier Society. Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, the film starts production in Atlanta this week. Jordan, who serves as an executive producer on the film, and his agent Phillip Sun at WME, helped WarnerMedia launch the new policy.

“Inclusivity has always been a no-brainer for me, especially as a black man in this business. It wasn’t until Frances McDormand spoke the two words that set the industry on fire — inclusion rider — that I realized we could standardize this practice. It allowed me to formally pledge my production company, Outlier Society, to a way of doing business,” said Jordan. “The WarnerMedia family has introduced an approach that accomplishes our shared objectives, and I applaud them for taking this enormous step forward. I’m proud that our film, ‘Just Mercy,’ will be the first to formally represent the future we have been working toward, together. This is a legacy-bearing moment.”

Warner Bros. recently released Crazy Rich Asians, the romantic comedy featuring an all-Asian cast that has become a breakout hit, topping the domestic box office for three consecutive weeks. The $30 million film has already earned north of $137 million worldwide. The studio previously released Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman, and its upcoming projects include Smallfoot, Wonder Woman 1984 and the recently announced In the Heights, Birds of Prey, The New Gods and more.

“I’m proud that Warner Bros., and our sister companies HBO and Turner, are willing to state unequivocally that this is where we stand on diversity and inclusion. Our policy commits us to taking concrete action to further our goals, to measure the outcomes and to share the results publicly,” said Kevin Tsujihara, chairman and CEO, Warner Bros. “I’m also thrilled that we were able to work with Michael B. Jordan to craft a meaningful policy and framework that will apply to all of our productions, across all of our divisions, going forward.”

On the TV side, the studios' projects include Black Lightning, Claws, Lethal Weapon, Love Is___, Queen Sugar, Riverdale and Supergirl along with upcoming series All American, David Makes Man, God Friended Me, Lovecraft Country, Madam CJ Walker and The Red Line.

“The core values of the WarnerMedia companies are built on doing innovative work in a manner that respects our creative partners, their aspirations and their individuality,” said WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey. “I am proud of the progress that the leaders of our businesses have made, and we believe this is the next logical step to improve our content and cement our leadership in contributing to positive change in the industry.”

Read the full policy statement, below.

WarnerMedia companies, Warner Bros., HBO and Turner, have long been committed to diversity and inclusion as moral and business imperatives. It is essential that our content and creative partners reflect the diversity of our society and the world around us. Together with other production companies, networks, guilds, unions, talent agencies and others in the industry, we all must ensure there is greater inclusion of women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, those with disabilities and other underrepresented groups in greater numbers both in front of and behind the camera. 

For our part, WarnerMedia pledges to use our best efforts to ensure that diverse actors and crew members are considered for film, television and other projects, and to work with directors and producers who also seek to promote greater diversity and inclusion in our industry. To that end, in the early stages of the production process, we will engage with our writers, producers and directors to create a plan for implementing this commitment to diversity and inclusion on our projects, with the goal of providing opportunities for individuals from under-represented groups at all levels. And, we will issue an annual report on our progress.

The companies of WarnerMedia have a historic and proven commitment to diversity and inclusion. But there is much more we can do, and we believe real progress can be made in the industry. We will work with our partners in the entertainment community to make this commitment a reality.